On the stage, decked in small ribbons and garish clothing, stood two men, and they both strummed their guitars with passion and grace. One of them was short and fat, the other tall and thin. A generic pair, to be sure, but one that had played for a very long time, in a lot of places.
The day’s patrons did not seem to like the show, however, as they paid little mind to them, walking along, talking amongst themselves—even as a true master, two in fact, went to work.
Well, most did not like it. Though it would never see publication or media attention, the Royal Child was in enraptured attendance. He was toward the back, pretending to be interested in the fruits his handler would offer to him, but only eating them out of habit.
“What do you suppose their life is like?” he asked his handler, unable to hide fully the wonder in his voice.
“Hmm, not a life you would want, sire.”
The Royal Child looked up and frowned. His handler was a serious-looking man, all mustached and gray cloud eyes.
“No?” he asked. “Not a life I would want?”
His handler looked up at the space dome, at the field of stars that hung overhead, most of them heavily colonized. “Do you see that blip on the far horizon?”
The Royal Child followed his finger and then nodded his head. “Why, yes, that’s Sagittarius Ten: the mining planet.”
“Very good,” his handler said and smiled to him. “But, imagine a planet that is even further out, much further out, and it is not one we already control. Tell me, would you want to go there?”
“Me personally?” The Royal Child responded, aghast and yet excited at the prospect.
“Yes, with perhaps one friend,” the handler said.
“Would it be you? I might manage if it were you.”
Again, the handler could not help but smile. “No, not me.”
The boy sulked, just a bit. “Why not?”
“Now, this is all hypothetical, you know?”
The boy slightly relaxed. “Fine.”
“So, then,” the handler continued, waving out his hand to the stars above. “Say that you were not powerful, but, you must survive. Is that what you want?”
“Is that what it is like for them?”
The handler took his sire’s hand and then lifted him onto his shoulders. It was not allowed, not safe, for them to do this: but The Royal Child would not tell on his friend.
“That it is, yes.”
“I know it would be, as an idea. You are so far above them, that makes it harder for you to understand.”
“Wait, are you calling me weak? Unable to survive?” The Royal Child asked. “I train with the vibrating blades and the light pistols all the time. I am not weak.”
“Not that way, no. You are a god in a world of man.”
“So, you’re saying I could not be like them?”
The handler lowered him back down and patted him on the head. “No, I am afraid not. But that does not mean they will not play music for you—even if they do not know it is you who is nearby to listen. For they are they—and they play. And you are you—and you rule. Stay as a ruler; stay where you are powerful.”
“I suppose so. I suppose that is okay,” The Royal Child said, and listened intently again.
The music sounded even grander now than it had before. He could not help but wonder anew, rebelliously, what it would be like to play it.